Half-brothers released after newly discovered evidence clears men in 1983 rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie
Leon Brown speaks with a reporter at the Maury Correctional Institution in North Carolina about his incarceration. Photograph: Chuck Liddy/AP
North Carolina’s longest-serving death row inmate and his half-brother serving a life sentence have been exonerated and released from prison after spending more than 30 years behind bars for a rape and murder they did not commit.
Robeson County superior court acted with lightning speed to free the two men, Leon Brown and Henry McCollum, who were 15 and 19 at the time of their arrest in 1983. It was testimony to the overwhelming strength of the evidence that was presented to the court that judge Douglas Sasser cleared them of the murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie on the first day of a hearing to consider new DNA evidence in the case.
The evidence absolved McCollum and Brown, now 46 and 50, of any link to biological material collected at the crime scene. It also found a positive match with a known sex offender from the same small town who was living just feet away from the field in which Buie’s body was found.
McCollum was held on death row throughout his three decades in prison as an innocent man. His lawyer, Ken Rose of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, who has fought the case for the past 20 years, pointed out that both his client and Brown are diagnosed as having intellectual disabilities.
“It’s terrifying that our justice system allowed two intellectually disabled children to go to prison for a crime they had nothing to do with, and then to suffer there for 30 years. Henry watched dozens of people be hauled away for execution. He would become so distraught he had to be put in isolation. It’s impossible to put into words what these men have been through and how much they have lost.”
Co-counsel for Brown, Ann Kirby, said: “This case is a tragedy which has profoundly affected not only the lives of the people involved, but which profoundly affects our system of justice in North Carolina. This case highlights in a most dramatic manner the importance of finding the truth. Today truth has prevailed, but it comes 30 years too late for Sabrina Buie and her family, and for Leon, Henry, and their families. Their sadness, grief, and loss will remain with them forever.”
The dramatic release of the two prisoners now puts the spotlight on the police department in Red Springs, a small town in the south of the state of just 3,000 people. In court documents filed by lawyers for McCollum and Brown the police department is accused of having framed false confessions for the duo which they made the arrested teenagers sign after hours of interrogations.
Henry McCollum sits on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photograph: Travis Long/AP
The town’s police force is also accused of having hidden boxes of crucial evidence in its office from the time of the boys’ trial in 1984 right up to last month. The existence of the evidence, gathered at the crime scene, was never disclosed either to the boys’ defence teams or to the district attorney prosecuting the case.
The current district attorney for Robeson County, Johnson Britt, agreed on Tuesday that the two men are innocent and consented to their unconditional release. No further charges will be brought against them.
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Hey, your question isn’t inappropriate at all, but aside from not being qualified to give fitness advice, this is just how my body looks. I have a muscular build, and I’ve written about that some here.
A Georgia man died after police shocked him with a Taser as many as 13 times because he said he was too tired to walk due to a foot chase, his attorney said this week.
At a press conference on Tuesday, attorney Chris Stewart said that police records showed that East Point officers had discharged their Tasers 13 times to make Gregory Towns, who was handcuffed, get up and walk.
“This is a direct violation of their own rules,” Stewart explained, according to WSB-TV. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”
“They used their Tasers as a cattle prod on Mr. Towns.”
Stewart said that he pieced together what led up to Towns’ April 11 death using official city records and eyewitness accounts.
“He wasn’t cursing. He wasn’t being abusive. He was saying, ‘I’m tired,’” the attorney pointed out.
Taser logs showed that Sgt. Marcus Eberhart fired his Taser 10 times, and officer Howard Weems pulled the trigger three times. However, the logs did not indicate how many times the Taser made contact with Towns.
In all, records indicated a total shock time of 47 seconds. Stewart called the situation “indefensible.”
Autopsy results obtained by WSB-TV showed that Towns’ death was ruled a homicide because the Taser shocks — combined with physical activity and heart disease — contributed to his death.
But Police Benevolent Association lawyers representing Weems continued to insist that the officer’s actions did not cause Towns to die.
Attorney Dale Preiser issued a statement saying that the “use of drive stun to gain compliance is permitted under federal and Georgia law.”
Stewart said that he would file a lawsuit against the city this week.
Watch the video report here from WSB-TV, broadcast Aug. 26, 2014.
See…this is a case where the Police Officers Union or whatever should explicitly wash their hands of this person and his conduct. They should be out in front saying, “This is unacceptable, and we are ashamed to have this person (or these persons) on the police force.” Instead, they’re defending them.
And *this* is why people don’t trust the police. Because even in cases of obvious, egregious, horrifying wrongdoing, the police department as an entity is still willing to support these individuals.
I realize now how rude that could've come off, it definitely was not meant that way, and I apologize, I truly hope you weren't offended. I was genuinely just trying to express that I think you're beautiful and your confidence and comfort with your body jumps out of your pictures and caught my attention. Again, I really am sorry that it came out sounding as rude as it did. Sending messages to blogs I admire makes me nervous and it just kinda spilled out. I should've edited a bit.
Your body shape isn't normally one I would look at and think "wow, I love that", it's still beautiful, of course, and your skin's really lovely, too, but your shape's not normally what my eye would linger on. With you, though, it's impossible not to pause and take a second look; you really radiate confidence, you look entirely comfortable in your skin and it's so stunning(and your hair's fabulous). Random thought share. Have a fantastic day. ♥